NURSING graduate Carla Rollason has praised Manning Hospital for the role it plays in teaching graduates as well as university nursing students.
"It's definitely a good teaching hospital".
And she should know.
The registered nurse undertook her final year placement in Taree and she is also one of five new graduates, comprising four registered nurses and one midwife, who started their 12-month transition program at the hospital in February.
All have graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from their respective universities.
For Carla that was the University of Technology in Sydney.
During the one-year full-time temporary contract the new graduates will rotate through different areas of the hospital to increase their skills set and get a broad experience across departments as well as working across all shifts (morning, afternoon and night).
"They get skills and knowledge and consolidated practice," said the hospital's clinical nurse educator Maria Relf, who coordinates the ongoing program at Manning Hospital (nursing grads are accepted in a staggered process throughout the year for their 12-month transition).
Carla has started off the year in the medical/acute stroke ward and said she appreciates being in a working environment and supported in her ongoing education.
"The experience at Manning Hospital has been very inclusive with staff more than happy to take graduates under their wing and show us the ropes," she said.
"Someone will come and assist you and make sure you are doing it the right way".
The level of responsibility has increased now that she's graduated from university.
"As a student there's no responsibility," said Carla.
"On your RN year you are responsible. You've got to make sure (something) is done, it's up to you."
Maria said the hospital staff is used to having students and new graduates as part of the team and everyone is focused on what they are doing and supporting the young nurses as they come through.
"If I'm going to be sick one day we want them to know exactly how to do it," said Maria.
Carla said of all the practicums she did during university, her visit to Taree was the most beneficial.
As a Sydney-based student she had found herself competing with other nursing students for spaces at Sydney hospitals where there could be a number of students undertaking the same practicum at the same time.
She found in Taree she had more individual attention and was included in a lot more of what the nurses were doing, whether it was watching them work or being guided while she did something herself.
"I got so much experience here."
The rotations the nurses go through during their transition year helps nurses determine what direction they want to take their career.
"Some people don't know if they want to be a specialist or not," said Maria.
Carla is thankful to now be working and not required to study at the same time (the degree is a demanding course but when on prac and working full time, students are still required to carry on with their studies and complete assignments).
Not that the end of the degree means the end of learning.
"They're still learning all the time," said Maria.
For Carla, nursing was her chance to help people, but it wasn't something she pursued right away.
After finishing her Higher School Certificate she was tired of studying so took on a desk job at a banking/finance firm.
A couple of years into that she went travelling for two years and spent time visiting third world countries.
"I felt I wanted to help people."
She returned to her banking job but it just didn't sit well with her anymore.
"It wasn't for me. It was time for me to do nursing and to study.
"Now that I've started...I think I've made the right decision."
Carla loves coming to work at Manning Hospital and would be thrilled if a full time nursing position came up at the end of her transition program.
"Every day is different and every patient is different...it keeps your mind going."
But she's still deciding what direction she wants to take.
"I think surgical is my area. But we'll see," she said, smiling.